Chapter 1 - in which the cat gets the cream. The Miller band at the height of their powers playing sixteen lapidary lyrical gems from Porter's equal, Johnny Mercer, recorded when both were flying. And although Mercer's albums with Benny Goodman are better celebrated, Miller's respect for the man he called the best matches Mercer smile for smile and innuendo for innuendo.
His band's witty, stylish charts, cushioned by the insouciant confidence of a nation not at war, slink and slide like cats' tails through the singers' legs to mimic Mercer's phrasing. Yet because this is a movie Show tunes compilation, Rumbas, Standards, Dialogue songs, Vamps and Mercer's own indomitable brand of Sunny Side Of The Street optimism supply plenty of bells and whistles over his immaculate songwriting, yet may grate on ears accustomed to "It's a quarter to three . . ."
And there's no end to the hokey harmonies plundered by generations of jingle writers ever since, or syrupy fills for the dancers to imagine they too are falling for that Old Black Magic on a hilltop overlooking somewhere expensive just to look at. Which is why it matters that it's Mercer. You get sympathetically and musically remastered definitive performances of Skylark, Fools Rush In, And The Angels Sing, a whole pocketbook full of sure fire hold-my-hand pitches and never a phrase that isn't original, inventive and plain old classy. Jeeves, really, when it comes to the words business.
Not forgetting Miller and Mercer's Broadway sequined, but never-the-one you-hear-on-the-radio, barbershop-to-gospel version of Black Magic.If you haven't got these tunes, this era, this sound on a digital carrier already, Miler plays Mercer is a bargain and a belter.
I was first exposed to jazz as a baby. When I was a child, my parents regularly played classic jazz, i.e., Fitzgerald, Hawkins, Holiday, Davis, Coltrane, Monk, Montgomery, Silver, etc. I vividly remember sitting in front of the stereo as a kid, rocking back and forth to jazz, so the music is embedded in me
I was first exposed to jazz as a baby. When I was a child, my parents regularly played classic jazz, i.e., Fitzgerald, Hawkins, Holiday, Davis, Coltrane, Monk, Montgomery, Silver, etc. I vividly remember sitting in front of the stereo as a kid, rocking back and forth to jazz, so the music is embedded in me. As a life-long jazz lover, I eventually became a jazz educator and producer/host of a very popular jazz radio program in Los Angeles, California.
I love jazz because it is so free. I can think, feel, and dream to jazz, and it allows my mind to flow and expand, musically and otherwise. I also love jazz because it, much like other forms of music, allows opportunities to bring people from all walks of life together. What makes jazz more significant to me, though, is its historical significance; that is, how jazz served, in part, as a method of bringing communities together, a cultural/social/spiritual conduit.